Interesting. I was browsing this weekend looking for some integrated amps and stumbled on a user’s experience with his LS50 using an Emotiva mini-x100 amp…actually, quite similar to your experience. I ended up ordering one, not only for its price and small form factor, but also if the amp ends up not being sufficient enough then I can just use it for the bedroom, once I finally retire my NHTs with it. Yup, you heard that – I ‘m finally moving my NHTs out of my HT room. It had a good run…20 years from Jeff Beck to Astrud…and yes Michelle Pfeiffer's voice. I remember back in the days when choosing between a PSB, Paradigm, and Superzero - her husky bedroom voice was all I needed to hear and was the deciding factor coming out of that speaker
This KEF though is in a different league. It’s not just a speaker – when I played a cello piece it was not only sound coming out a speaker. I never heard anything like it, since the Sonus Faber Cremonas…rather I felt as if the instrument itself was playing right in front of me
Anyway, here’s what this Emotiva user has to say:
“Remember when stereo amplifiers were only tubed? At the time two amplifiers were regarded amont the top, and almost classified as juggernauts: the monoblock Dynaco Mk III rated at 60 watts RMS, and the McIntosh 275 rated at 75 watts per channel RMS.
Then came the Dynaco Stereo 120, which weighed less than ONE Mk III for the same power output. That is efficiency and friendly customer design.
About fifty years later we think of 60 watts per channel as "almost small". So, in comes the Emotiva "miniX a-100", with 50 watts-per-channel at 8 ohms, or, 80 watts-per-channel at 4 ohms. The amplifier-type circuit is AB, used in the vast majority of amplifiers on the market. It is not Type A, nor Digital type.
Replacing a 26-year-old, weathered Hafler DH-220, this "a-100" came in timely fashion. Two weeks after receiving one pair of KEF LS50 flagship speakers (which replaced two loved but damaged Paradigm Active/20 speakers).
The "a-100" IS a power amplifier, in the same vein as other "basic power amplifiers". BUT it is MUCH more than that. Flexibility is its name: three different ON / OFF possibilities, one completely manual, plus one triggered alternative, plus sensitivity to an audio signal, with ability to pass on to other amplifiers connected in "daisy-chain" style.
It can work as an "integrated amplifier" controlling the volume of fixed level audio sources connected to it.
It can drive speakers of average efficiency to satisfying levels as a main amplifier, and can be used as a zone amplifier also. The cosmetic presentation is elegant but not ostentatious, with blue LED around its volume control (doubling as an improbable fault indicator in amber color). It also has a circuit to protect the amplifier and speakers.
Stretching its muscles with difficutl program material hardly got it to show an "operating temperature", which was much cooler than "warm". But it has a built-in fan for the improbable occasion of high temperature.
This amplifier is just the recipe for the KEF LS50, insofar as the speakers work at 4 ohms for much of their operating range (as noted by Stereophile magazine), and the "a-100" amplifier serves out its strongest output at 4 ohms.
Auditioning the amplifier/speaker combo with LPs and DVD movies, included jazz, symphonic music, rock, pops, movie dialogue (quite important to separate good from lesser speakers on male voices), and assorted sound effects.
In my small studio (about 15 Ft X 17 Ft X 12 Ft) this combination exceeded all expectations with an IMPOSING sense of POWER and full-range neutral tone. Full sense of ease even in demanding musical phrases, and a sense of delicacy in softer phrases. I can still hear the strong "sforzandos" in Beethoven's Third symphony, and the delicacy of Tony Bennet singing "If I Love Again", or his brash swagger in "I Wanna Be around".
And, the Emotiva company ARE a new business model for the 21st Century, with wildly good products at amazing prices. AND friendly Customer Service, a CRITICAL ingredient to continue doing business. They even have a very popular customer blog, and do cyclical Emotiva-Fest gatherings for making live music and sharing friendly banter.